Cemeteries in Sibu are hoping to discourage people from visiting and crowding the premises, by not providing the MySejahtera QR code and logbook during Qing Ming.
They made the decision in view of the persistently high number of Covid-19 cases in Sibu.
A retiree, Marcus Tan, was upset that his family had to forgo the festival’s customary rites because of that.
“I think it is not fair of the cemetery management to do this.
“We were told that if we were caught violating the standard operating procedures, it would be our responsibility and not theirs, ” he said.
Tan, 62, and his family had been visiting his parents-in-law’s graves at a local cemetery every year except last year because of the movement control order.
“The cemetery management’s decision has led to an argument among my wife’s siblings. Some said we should not take the risk while others believed we should pay our respects regardless.”
Tan said his family decided not to observe Qing Ming this year as they feared the consequences of being caught for violating the SOP.
Another retiree, Roy Ting, 62, suggested that the local authority put up the MySejahtera QR code and logbook instead.
“This will enable family members to visit cemeteries with peace of mind, ” he said.
Sibu United Chinese Graveyard Association chairman Teo Boon Siew said the cemetery management had decided
not to provide check-in facilities in order to discourage people from crowding the cemeteries during QIng Ming, as the number of Covid-19 cases in Sibu was still high.
Teo, who is also a Sibu Rural District councillor, said there were 21 cemeteries covering 100ha under the association.
“They feel that for everyone’s safety, it is better for people not to go to cemeteries during this time, ” he explained.
He said the decision was taken by the management — comprising various Chinese clan groups — individually and not by the association itself.
“We have to respect their decision, ” he said, adding that they could only advise those who would be visiting cemeteries.
“We have put up banners at the entrance of every cemetery telling people to follow the SOP set by the State Disaster Management Committee, ” said Teo.
The committee had approved the observance of Qing Ming from March 20 to April 14 but with strict SOP in place.
Visiting hours are restricted from 4am to noon for cemeteries and 4am to 4pm for columbaria.
Eight members of a family are allowed to go to graveyards but only two at columbaria or memorial halls.
The elderly, children below 12 years old and individuals with chronic diseases are advised to refrain from participating in the festival.